HomePod improvements I’d like to see
If you have a HomePod you may have heard that version 13.02 of the software has been released and if you were lucky you may have heard it was pulled for bricking HomePods before you have installed it.
It’s unfortunate that it happened. From what I understand it comes about from resetting a HomePod with 13.2 on it. Which surely should be a common test feature give there’s little else you can do with a HomePod other than talk to it.
As someone who has had a total of three HomePods (bought 1, got it replaced and then bought a second) it’s become apparent there was some ill thought out design going on. Don’t get me wrong, I love the HomePod and that is why I bought a second one and only put off buying one for the bedroom simply because I’d rather have a smaller one there. But the thing is, the HomePod is a computer. A computer with no way to turn it off. Is there any computing device where it’s advisable to just yank the cord out? Yet that is how you have to turn off a HomePod. With older versions of the OS it could be fairly common that it would become unresponsive and the only way out of it was to do just that - yank the cord.
I suspect that cord yanking is how my first HomePod got into a bad state. The hardware appeared to be fine but it just couldn’t start. Like many Apple things there’s no way to really diagnose what went wrong. Even if when you take it into an Apple Store the thing is such a black box they can’t really do anything. With HomePod OS 13.02 bricking the things, the only way apple can fix it is to give you a new one which seems insane.
So, how can they fix this and make the general user experience better when things do go wrong? First, put a power button on it. There’s an empty gap on the bottom. It doesn’t need to be visible or even used much. Say that the thing just turns on when plugged in. Then the only reason to turn it over is to cleanly shut down the thing.
Second, make it easier to replace the power cord. I see no sign that the cords will break down easily but the cord is basically replaceable now except for it’s not easy to pull out and will likely not cleanly go back in leaving a smooth cloth finish around it. To kill two birds with one stone maybe put a bit of a plastic square around the power cord, a tiny power button and the port for the plug. Then you can easily reach the button and replace the cord. This would not hurt the aesthetic of the device at all and make the experience much better.
Lastly, please give us some diagnostics in the Home app. You can hide them away if that’s preferred. As long as I can get to them when the device may not be feeling well would go a long way. Admittedly, the HomePod is fairly rock solid these days if you exclude some Airplay 2 issues so, I suspect they would argue this is unnecessary. I could live with that if the other physical aspects were addressed.